The color of your pee can tell you a lot about your overall health. From your hydration levels to the concentration of certain substances in your body, urine color is a good indicator of healthy chemistry. Colors ranging from light to dark yellow typically indicate hydration levels.
Certain foods, diseases, and medications can change your urine to pink, red, orange, brown, green, blue, purple, and black.
This article will explore the normal color ranges of urine and when color changes might signal a problem.
Pee Color: What’s Normal?
“Normal” pee color varies. Generally, it should be yellow, but it can range from dark to light yellow, depending on your hydration level.
Dark yellow urine often indicates that you are dehydrated, and when you’ve consumed more than enough fluid, your pee might look almost clear.
Some genetic factors and diseases can also alter your standard urine color. For example, your urine may appear darker or brownish in color if you have a chronic liver disease. While this isn’t considered a typical urine color, it might not be unusual with your condition.
Chronic illnesses like liver disease usually require ongoing medical treatment, so talk to a healthcare provider about the usual color of your urine and when to worry about changes.
Pee Color: What’s Abnormal?
Beyond shades of yellow, certain diseases, infections, medications, and foods can change the color of your urine.
Pink, Red, or Brown
If your urine appears pink, red, or brown, first consider the foods you’ve recently consumed. Some can change the color of your pee. Causes for urine to appear pink, red, or brown can include:
- Food coloring
- Kidney damage or disease
- Certain forms of anemia
- Porphyria (a buildup of chemicals in the body)
- Bladder or kidney tumors
Dark Yellow to Orange
Dark yellow to orange pee colors can result from:
- High levels of specific vitamins or minerals, such as beta-carotene
- Medications, such as Pyridium or AZO (phenazopyridine), Rifadin or Rimactane (rifampin), Jantoven (warfarin)
- Laxative use
Green or Blue
Green-tinted urine or blue-tinted urine are less common and can be caused by things like:
White, thick, or milky-colored urine is usually a sign of infection, particularly urinary tract infections. The white, cloudy color results from bacteria and white blood cells present to fight off the infection. Foods high in purine can lead to uric acid buildup, causing your urine to appear white.
Purple or Black
Purple and black urine colors are rare and usually signals specific problems. Purple develops in people with urinary catheters, whose urine contains a bacterial byproduct called indirubin. On the other hand, black urine can be a sign of a rare genetic condition called alkaptonuria. The color develops from your body’s inability to break down specific proteins.
Color Chart to Match Up Pee Color
Color charts offer a visual reference for urine colors. While urine color assessment is an important clinical tool, color perceptions can be subjective. A standardized urine color chart can help remove some guesswork when comparing urine colors. Always talk to a healthcare provider if you notice any unexplained changes in your urine.
When to See a Healthcare Provider for Your Urine
Any color of urine outside of yellow may be a cause for concern. Still, if you have a medical condition or take a medication that may alter the color of urine, your healthcare provider will usually warn you.
If you experience a new or unexpected change in the color of your urine that doesn’t go away, follow up with a healthcare provider. Changes in the color of your pee can be an early indicator of certain body changes—or a red flag for specific health problems.
The color of your urine can shift depending on how much fluid you drink, the foods you eat, and the medicines you take. Temporary and rare color changes aren’t always a cause for concern, and are likely the result of food coloring or dyes that pass through your urine.
If your pee changes color without an obvious explanation or if the color change sticks around for a while, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a healthcare provider. Some urine color changes can be an early warning sign for a more significant medical condition.
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Harvard Health Publishing. Red, brown green: urine colors and what they might mean.
Kostelnik SB, et al. The validity of urine color as a hydration biomarker within the general adult population and athletes: a systematic review. Journ. Am. Coll. Nutri. January 2020;40:2(172-179). doi:10.1080/07315724.2020.1750073
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